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US, France Sanction Entities Tied to Syrian Chemical Weapons

FILE - People stand in front of damaged buildings in the town of Douma, the site of a suspected chemical weapons attack, near Damascus, Syria, April 16, 2018.

The United States and France have imposed sanctions upon groups and individuals with links to Syria's chemical weapons program, the U.S. Treasury Department said Wednesday.

"Syria's horrific use of chemical weapons, including attacks against innocent women and children, remains deeply embedded in our minds," said Sigal Mandelker, treasury undersecretary for terrorism, said in a statement. "Today, we are continuing our campaign to stop the Assad regime's ruthless attacks by targeting the procurement networks that have supported its chemical weapons program."

According to the statement, the United States will block five entities and eight individuals who have been part of a network supplying electronics to Syria's chemical weapons program.

On Sunday, France froze the assets of 24 individuals in the same network, the statement read.

One entity that Treasury sanctioned is Electronics Katrangi Trading, a Lebanese electronics retailer. Two of the individuals sanctioned by the department were former residents of Massachusetts.

The Syrian government has long received criticism for its alleged use of chemical weapons against its own civilians amid the nation's civil war. The Syrian government and Russia, its ally, have denied these claims.

In April, over 70 people were killed in a suspected chemical attack in the Syrian city of Douma, a rebel-held town. An interim report released in July by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, an intergovernmental chemical weapons watchdog, found "explosive residues [and] various chlorinated organic chemicals" on the site.

As a response to the April attacks, the U.S., French and British governments launched a missile strike on suspected chemical weapon sites in Syria.

"If the Syrian regime uses this poisonous gas again, the United States is locked and loaded," Nikki Haley, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, said in April.